Crawford: Scottsdale needs more diverse representation — not less

There are approximately 235,000 people who live in Scottsdale. Only seven people — our mayor and council — are elected to represent us.

Bill Crawford

Bill Crawford

The preposterous notion of having two of these representatives from the same household is fraught with peril. So why would we even consider having a husband and wife serve together on the council?

Mayoral candidate Bob Littlefield’s wife, Kathy, serves on the Scottsdale City Council as vice mayor. If Bob is elected, 28 percent of Scottsdale’s decision making ability would come from one household. It would be as if 28 members of the U.S. Senate came from the same family, and lived in the same house.

The Littlefields have stated that my criticism of having a husband and wife on the same council is an attack on women. It’s not. This is a gender neutral bad idea. I would make the same argument if Joanne Lane was running for council while Jim Lane is mayor.

I believe the Littlefields have also recently developed a disingenuous strategy whereby it appears Kathy’s votes are in contrast to how Bob would vote, but only in safe counts where her vote was not decisive. That way she can say; “Bob and I don’t always vote the same.” This is a clever Littlefield tactic, don’t take the bait. They are one in the same.

I don’t think it’s wise for one family to hold that much power over our city. It could certainly create ethical and legal challenges as well as open meeting law concerns.

I also don’t think it’s wise to have someone such as Bob Littlefield be in charge of our city. I originally sought the office of mayor, but later ended my campaign in order to endorse Mayor Lane. One of the key reasons for that endorsement is his proven ability to solve problems.

Several years ago, I led an association of residents and business owners that were concerned about challenges that arose from the entertainment district downtown. Our organization made no secret of our concerns. Mayor Lane made no secret of his willingness to work with all sides. He quickly called meetings to address issues and solve problems. A combination of new ordinances, more effective enforcement and a spirit of cooperation improved quality of life and addressed the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

Incidentally, during the workout process on the downtown issues, Bob was the only council person who refused to meet with me or participate. He wouldn’t even go on one of the walking tours with me. Mayor Lane was the first to go.

Mayor Lane has always welcomed a diversity of viewpoints when it comes to governing our city. I have owned and operated my downtown Scottsdale business for more than 20 years. Because I have also resided in the downtown area for 20 years, I have a unique perspective on the issues regarding our great city. It has been more than 10 years since a resident of south Scottsdale has been elected to the council and more than 20 years for an elected mayor.

This has resulted in virtually no representation in the southern part of the city. I believe all parts of Scottsdale; north, central, and southern, are unique and contribute to the quality of life we enjoy. Obviously, south Scottsdale needs more of a voice. Therefore, I support Mayor Lane’s proposal to create equal representation through a hybrid district system for the election of council members in Scottsdale.

We would elect one council member each from the north, central, and southern parts of the city. The Mayor and the other three council members would still be elected at large. The final determination of district lines is subject to the approval of the department of justice.

Being able to forge compromise with people who may not share your opinions is what makes good leaders. Seeking out diverse opinions is what makes great leaders. Bob Littlefield does neither. At a recent Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce forum, he told the crowd that business leaders should “fear him and hate him.” That’s not how you build coalitions. That’s not how you solve problems. That’s not how you lead a great city. Bob Littlefield divides and Jim Lane unites.

My support for Mayor Lane isn’t based on whether or not we agree on all the issues. What sets him apart is his willingness to not just listen to all sides, but his ability to find pathways to resolution and solve problems with diverse input.

We don’t need two votes on the city council coming from the same household. We don’t need Bob Littlefield as mayor. If Bob Littlefield had been the mayor over the last 12 years, we would still be chocking on the dust of the last recession. I believe the worst thing that could possibly happen to Scottsdale would be for Bob Littlefield to be elected Mayor.

I’m voting for Jim Lane and I urge you to do the same.

Editor's Note: Mr. Crawford is a local business owner and resident of Scottsdale

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